Archive for August, 2009

What Will Happen To Marvel Island?

Posted in Travel on August 31st, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

From the Financial Pages today – business news is not something I usually write about, but you’ll see why the following story would interest me:

Disney To Acquire Marvel Entertainment

Our family frequents the Orlando Florida area, home of Disney World and also their major competitor – Universal Studios.  For those of you who don’t know, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure (the newer and more thrill-ride oriented of Universal’s two Orlando parks), there is an entire area called Marvel Superhero Island®.  So my question is, now that Disney, Universal’s biggest competitor and business enemy, has bought Marvel, what will happen to Superhero Island at Islands of Adventure?  I can’t imagine that Universal would want to keep the same characters, now owned by Disney, at their park.  And I can’t imagine Disney letting Universal keep the characters at their park, unless the price was right, of course.  But based upon the competitiveness that is obvious to the tourists flocking to the area, Disney’s superhero lease price would probably put Universal out of business!

Marvel’s Superhero Island currently contains (click the link for an interactive map – Superhero Island is on the left side of the park, just left of the main gate) the following attractions:   The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall, and Storm Force Accelatron, which we’ve always skipped since it seemed like Universal’s answer to Disney’s Teacup ride.  We always skipped Doctor Doom also since it’s a free-fall ride and I’m afraid to go on those.  I think my husband went on this one however, but I don’t remember him saying it was any different from the rest of these types of rides.  In short, it probably won’t be much of a problem to rename these two rides.  The Hulk coaster is an awesome coaster and should also be able to withstand the re-themeing, although it might need a paint job to change its current green/purple Hulk theme.  The Adventures of Spiderman is another story.  This ride is awesome!  There really isn’t anything else like it in either of the two parks.  It’s basically like taking a thrill ride into a 3D Spiderman movie.  I guess they’d have to choose a new character and make a new movie.  Whatever they do, I hope it’s as good as the original Spiderman ride!  Also complicating a theming switch would be the superheros and villians that walk around Marvel’s Superhero Island.  I guess all the costumes would be sold to Disney.  Perhaps Disney will build a superhero section – my guess would be at MGM Hollywood Studios if I had to pick a place.

And Universal would have an entire area to theme and fill.  Hmmm, imagine the possibilities….
Let’s see, would they coincide the new area with  a new movie coming out (Smurfs (sorry Carol), Jetsons – not sure if those are Universal movies)?  Or would they take one of their existing franchises (Simpsons – they’d have to move that super-cool new ride from the Studios park to the Islands park!, NBC land (The Office – The Ride!)) and create a whole new world?  Any ideas?

**UPDATE** – From orlandosentinel.com: “…theme-park rival Universal Orlando will likely retain the park rights to its four Marvel superstars, including Spider-Man and the Incredible Hulk…
…Universal’s contracts apparently gives it exclusive U.S. rights east of the Mississippi River for theme-park attractions built around certain of those characters, notably Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men and Dr. Doom.
Universal Orlando said Marvel characters will remain a staple at its parks.
“Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and the Marvel characters are an important part of the Universal Orlando experience. They will remain so,” said Tom Schroder, a Universal spokesman. “Our agreement with Marvel stands for as long as we follow the terms of our existing contract and for as long as we want there to be a Marvel Super Hero Island.”

So in response to several comments from blog readers, there are a separate set of rights for the Marvel characters in question – theme park rights.

Match.com – For Gorillas

Posted in animals, Current Events on August 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

See if you enjoy this as much as I did – a group of female gorillas is given posters of their prospective mate.  How did they react to it?  Read:

From cnn.com:
by Nick Hunt

So when three female gorillas at London Zoo heard that they would soon be visited by a brooding French hunk — well, they went a bit bananas.

The latest development in Anglo-French relations sees Yeboah, a 20-stone 12-year-old, leave his current home at La Boissiere Du Dore Zoo, Pays de la Loire, northwest France and head for the British capital by the end of the year.

There he will be greeted by gorilla trio Zaire, Effie and Mjukuu, who were given posters of their prospective boyfriend for the first time Thursday.

One female gorilla shrieked in delight, while another wedged the poster in a tree to stare at it.

A third, clearly overcome by emotion, held the photo close to her chest — then ate it.

Their reception was somewhat unsurprising. The zoo has been without a male gorilla since the demise of Bobby, a silverback, in December.

Tracey Lee, team leader at London Zoo, put in a good word for the hirsute lothario on the London Zoo Web site, saying Yeboah is “a very charming, fun loving and intelligent gorilla.”

But whom will Yeboah choose to charm first?

Zaire, at 34, is the oldest female gorilla and has been at London Zoo since 1984. The zoo says she’s “happiest when she’s taking down and rebuilding her nest in various spots around the island. She loves to play with fabric and often drags it around with her all day. “

Then there’s Effie, 16, who “enjoys seeing toddlers and often makes her way over to the glass when they come to see her,” according to the zoo Web site.

Finally there’s 10-year-old Mjukuu, or “Jookie.” Dan Simmonds, a keeper at the zoo’s Gorilla Kingdom, says she “has this ‘butter wouldn’t melt look’ to her, and she gets away with murder.”

“The other two females get along with her very well; she seems to have them all wrapped around her little finger.”

delete gorilla

Above is a picture of the gorilla who hung up the picture of her new beau.

At Least She’s (Physically) OK

Posted in Current Events on August 28th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s really not much to say about the following article – someone did something extremely stupid, and I thought I’d share.  At least no one was seriously hurt…

CAR SET ABLAZE AFTER JOLIET WOMAN USED LIGHTER TO CHECK GAS CAN LEVEL
By Lee Filas | Daily Herald Staff

A 27-year-old Joliet woman is suffering from second-degree burns after using a lighter to check the fuel level in a gas can she was filling while the can was resting inside her car.

Police officials said the woman drove into a 7-11 gas station at 1609 E. Cass St. at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night and climbed out of her car.

She then placed the gas can on the passenger seat of the vehicle, pulled down the nozzle of the pump, and began filling the can.

About halfway through, the woman ignited a lighter to shine some light on the gas can, apparently to see how full the can was, officials said.

The can ignited from the lighter’s flame and exploded, setting the vehicle’s interior ablaze, officials said.

After the fire started, the woman pushed the car away from the gas pumps to apparently ensure the fire didn’t spread to the gas pumps itself.

Officials said, when police and fire officials arrived on the scene, the car was located about 5-feet from the pumps and was completely engulfed in flames.

The woman was transported from the scene to Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet with nonlife threatening injuries to her wrist and thigh, authorities said.

And is it any wonder why it doesn’t list the woman’s name?  I can’t decide if it’s a nice thing that the press spared her the humiliation or if they should have included her name so the rest of society can watch out for her!  I don’t really understand how someone could do something that dumb, and then turn around and remember to push the car out of the way so it didn’t ignite like the gas can!
Thank God there weren’t any kids in the car!

Random Night Of The King

Posted in Everyday Life, games, music on August 27th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

On a random note, I decided at the last minute to kind of theme-up game night a little bit last week.  I went to the library to find some background music to put in the kitchen CD player during game night, and the first thing I found was a Garth Brooks Greatest Hits collection – and not one of the two that I owned back when I was a huge fan – one of the reasons why Garth Brooks became intolerable, what a sell-out.  But he has some really good songs, and I thought it’d be great to hear some of them again.  Realizing I’ve tortured enough unwitting souls with my love of country music, I looked through the regular music.  But it was the adult section of the library, and I had two of the kids with me, so I was in a big hurry and all I could find was an Elvis greatest hits collection.  Thinking about it on the way home, I remembered a recipe I had come across months ago and put aside – Elvis’ favorite sandwich in a cookie.  What was Elvis’ favorite sandwich?  Peanut butter, banana, and bacon.  So I made the peanut butter, banana, and bacon cookies, we rocked to Elvis, even though he ruined more than a few people’s careers in the Mafia, I think.  I didn’t come across anyone all night who was ecstatic about my Elvis cookies, but they were more for the experience of emulating Elvis (this would have made a fun dress-up version of game night, haha) than they were for people to find delectable.  I, for one, found them tasty, but not great.  I’m not a big cookie person anyway, and I found the combination of bacon and banana quite interesting, though in a good way.  Coincidentally, I found out that 3 days before our game night was the 32nd anniversary of Elvis’ death, so it ended up being a tribute of sorts, I guess.  I like the idea of themed game nights once in a while, especially if it doesn’t require much extra dough (pun intended) or work.  How about we light up the comment board with suggestions for possible future game night themes?

*** – Here is some bonus footage – the Elvis cookie recipe.  Enjoy and let me know any alterations and feedback you have!
From the article where I read about it:
“Go with your gut – not your head – on this one; the combination of peanut butter, bacon, and bananas really is delicious.
ELVIS COOKIES
Makes 30 cookies
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup crumbled cooked (very crisp) bacon (about 6 strips)
1/2 cup diced firm banana

Heat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. (I did some research because I didn’t want to buy many extras like parchment paper, so I just greased a cookie sheet with margarine and it worked fine. So in place of the parchment paper, lightly grease a cookie sheet.) In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium to beat until well combined. Beat in the egg until just combined and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking soda. With the mixer running on low, add the dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Gently mix in the bacon and the bananas, trying not to mash the bananas. Using slightly wet hands, roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. Dip the tines of a fork into water, then use it to flatten the cookies until they are about 1.5 inches around. Bake on the middle rack for 11 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove with a metal spatula to racks to cool completely.

NOTE – a guest commented that he wished there was more bacon!

Poults

Posted in Kids on August 27th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I actually ran out of room in my previous post to talk about my little ones, my non-schoolers, so it’s time for an update!

The baby, soon to be toddler, Christopher (we call him Beeber since that’s what his big sister used to call him) is getting so big and is now probably closer to toddler than baby 🙁
He walks while holding onto things, and climbs onto anything within reach!  He has recently learned where his tongue is, and if you ask to see it, he will stick it out – awww!  He still loves most kinds of fruits; his favorites are strawberries, peaches, pears, and oranges, but he really doesn’t like cantaloupe nor tomatoes.

Disney is just about the sweetest thing imaginable.  Of course, she is still 2, so occasionally she gets loud, whiny, and insistent.  But she is a very thoughtful little girl, and a very unselfish 2-year-old.  Case in point:  the other day, the girls made macaroni necklaces at our church carnival, and a piece broke off of Sammie’s after we got home.  Sammie was launching into a tantrum, when all of a sudden, Disney jumps off my lap and starts to take her own necklace off, saying, “Here Sammie, you can have my necklace.”  I can’t imagine any other 2-year-old capable of such sweetness!  Add that to her little pageboy Buster Brown – as Carol calls it 🙂 – back-to-school haircut, and she is a living doll!  Oh, and I forgot to mention, Disney is much admired by her older sisters for her ability to whistle!

Having the two of them together during the day is so fun!  A lot of busyness and some mild frustration, but only because of the many messes Beeber makes and the fact that they’re both still in diapers.  I really need to work on Disney’s potty-training.  She has her little potty and likes to go in it, but it’s not always a priority for her…  One of the secrets to harmony in a family with more than a couple of small children is divide and conquer.  My children are so much better behaved when they are broken into groups of two or sometimes even three.  It’s really neat to give each sister the chance the be the BIG sister, and Sammie the Kindergartner gets her chance with Disney in the morning before her afternoon Kindergarten, and Disney gets to be Beeber’s big sister while the two older girls at school.  Back to school time is so fun, and my oldest daughter is really excited about attending her first football game Friday night!  I was a little hesitant to let her go; especially after Wednesday evening when I hung out with a pack of 10 seventh grade girls (a new endeavor of ours – we will be leading youth groups on Wednesday nights!  More on that later; I’m still grasping the um, entirety of the situation).  Seeing that my daughter is only 3 years away from the ages of these boy-crazy, cellphone-obsessed, “like”-spewing, makeup-toting ‘tweens tempted me to buy the totally awesome house on the way to Fort Wayne and lock my 9-year-old daughter in the top of the turret!

But I love where I live and wouldn’t dream of leaving, no matter how cool that house is (or how far it would leave us in debt).  The bottom line is, my daughter is a great kid, and I have to learn to trust her to hold her own – she’s not going to be that type of kid!  She acts mature and logical most of the time; helping her little sisters and brother and she deserves to get away from all the little kid stuff in our household to step out with her friends.  Perhaps volunteering with this (insanely girly) group of girls (have you ever noticed that if you close your eyes, you can mistake a group of pre-pubescent girls for a gang of wild turkeys??) will prepare me for what’s ahead with my 4 home-grown tweens and teens.  At least that’s what I’m hoping…

(In case you’re wondering about the title of this blog post…  Poults = baby turkeys.  I have 3 daughters and one son.  Within a decade, my house will no doubt sound something like a turkey farm!)

A Note To Add To That Last Post…

Posted in Everyday Life, Kids on August 23rd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , ,

I will be one of those frantic parents in the Walmart checkout line on the first day of school.  I’ve never been there to witness them myself, but I know they exist; I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I join them.  Yes, I planned ahead well enough to buy the necessary school supplies, but what I failed to do was to supervise the middle-schooler who was excitedly stuffing her new backpack, apparently ignoring the direction to “pack what’s on your list”.  Not really her fault – like I said, I should have been supervising her more carefully.  But as a result, our 4th grader now has a locker full of 4th grade school supplies AND Kindergarten school supplies (she brought them to school last Friday during orientation), while our Kindergartner has an empty backpack.

We could follow our oldest daughter into her new middle school tomorrow to repo her sister’s school supplies, but I’m pretty sure being the only student whose parents follow her into school (especially with little brother and sisters in tow) could cause her emotional damage beyond repair.  I’ll take my chances at Walmart.

Back To School!

Posted in Everyday Life, Kids on August 23rd, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, summer is officially over – school starts tomorrow!  I could be like everyone else and say “where did the summer go?”, but for me, it actually didn’t go as fast as I would have thought.  We were so busy; though it was good-busy; not like so-much-work-to-do-busy.  But much fun was had and I enjoyed every minute!  Last week was spent at school open houses and orientations, as well as a training event at our church to allow us to volunteer with our church’s student ministries.  That was an interesting evening – it began with us volunteers breaking off into groups of about 15 and making lines.  We were given a spoon tied to a string which was wound around a “spool” ie, an empty tube of toilet paper.  The first person in the line (me) was to put the spoon down their shirt and pants and give it to the next person who was supposed to put it up their pants and shirt, then to the next person who was supposed to put it down the shirt and pants, effectively “threading” the line of people together.  Kind of strange, I thought, but what’s going to happen once we’re all “wearing” the string???  It was a little scary, but luckily, the threading was the entire ice-breaking activity, and the rest of the evening was pleasantly spent listening to a guest speaker while munching on all kinds of orange snacks (orange was the theme for the evening – I never really thought about how many party snacks are orange before!).

Today we had so many activities and volunteering planned for church that we were on the go from 8:30 in the morning until about 3:30 in the afternoon.  Busy, but it was time well-spent, especially since we finished up the day with Kidstuff (a cute show with a wonderful message for the kids) and then a carnival with LOTS of treats and fun for the kids; they had a blast.  Good thing too – we need to get settled down early tonight in order to get our oldest to school by 7:30 in the morning!!!  She is starting middle school, and yes, to those of you who have asked – she will be switching classes, kind of like the “block” style they had when I was in middle school.  My daughter has a homeroom, but then she switches for language arts and math and perhaps other subjects as well.  And they do gym class strangely – there are 4 classes: gym, music, technology (typing, etc.), and art, and they take one of these 4 classes every day for 9 weeks and then switch to another.  That sounds pretty cool to me!  I would have LOVED it if I only had to worry about gym for 9 weeks of the year!  But, being in middle school also means that she has to change for gym class, poor thing – I remember that aspect of middle school making a lot of kids really nervous.  And at orientation last week, the principal gave us parents a talk about making sure we wash the gym clothes – the kids are getting to “that age”, she said, which prompted me to whisper to my friend nearby, “I’m not ready!”  But my daughter IS ready for middle school, and she seems to be making her way from tween to teen in no time –  UGH!  Poor thing got her first pimple just in time for the first day of middle school, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much, so we’re not making it a big deal.  It’s not like we’re publishing it on the internet for the entire world to read or anything…  But what are moms for?  She can thank me when she’s older and finds this through some sort of google search or something.

Our second oldest is starting Kindergarten.  This is our “difficult” child; our strong-willed one.  Samantha has a mind of her own, and some of the things she says leave us in stitches – others leave us shaking our heads, but we’ll stick to the positives here.  It seems that Samantha has the same Kindergarten  teacher that her sister had a few years ago, and my husband and I are chuckling to ourselves about the unintentional “joke” we’re about to play on our local school system.  We are wondering how many years it will take for word to spread amongst the teachers in town about how much of a…  well, difference there is  between Samantha and her big sister…  No need to go off about it here, like I said, we need to call it an early night, but it will suffice to say that any teacher of Taylor’s who gets Samantha 4 years later will probably be surprised 🙂

I was going to write about the younger two as well, but it’s bedtime already and this post is long enough – that’s what I get for not blogging regularly, I guess, an über-post!

An Old Friend, A New Perspective…

Posted in Everyday Life on August 17th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago, we learned a friend from way back was going to be in the area on his way from Illinois to Florida with his family, so he came by and brought the fam.  That in itself was very unusual – after 10 years of friendship and various business associations and partnerships, we had somehow never gotten around to meeting his family in person.

But on this day earlier this summer, they all stopped in, and his wife and two kids (the oldest was off on some kind of school function) were really very nice, fun, and interesting people – we had a great day together.  Their kids, although quite a bit older than my kids, were nonetheless kept entertained by my kids, especially their pet rats.  Overall, it was a great visit with a nice family –  we really should have gotten together sooner!

And I have some advice for our friend: appreciate what you have, buddy.

I don’t know why he does some of the things he does, but he sometimes acts, um, I’ll call it restless, and now that I know how awesome his wife and kids are, it’s going to be that much more difficult for me if I continue to hear about any more dumb choices on his part.  He seems to be going through some sort of mid-life crisis, so I can only hope that he finds what it is he’s looking for without hurting those wonderful people who love him!

Kid Currency

Posted in Kids on August 16th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Sometimes Dr. Phil does give good advice.  Among my favorite Dr. Phil advice lines is: “every kid has his (or her) currency”.  Unfortunately, our second-oldest daughter’s (age 5) currency (referring to something that can “buy” a kid; in other words, cheer up a sour mood) happens to be one of the girlie things her parents despise most: makeup.  She is starting to encounter the all-too-familiar plight of being a younger sibling: big sister leaves home bound for all kinds of fun adventures that little sister is not old enough to do; swimming at the pool, sleepovers, girl scout outings, the list seems endless when you’re ‘not old enough’…  It’s hard to be the little sister and to get left behind – I know because I was there!

So anyway, the other day, our oldest daughter left for the pool, and Sammie was really upset she couldn’t go with – but I knew just the cure: makeup!  I had bought a few makeup kits on clearance just after the Christmas season, and since I don’t wear makeup, what better use for it than to cheer up a sad little girl?  We don’t want the kids wearing makeup out in public or to school, and we especially don’t want it leading to an “addiction” – a teenage girl who won’t leave the house without her makeup on, yuck!  But for a special play-treat once in awhile to cheer up a left-behind little sis or two, makeup is just what the doctor ordered and works like a charm!

Bowling For Columbine

Posted in Everyday Life on August 12th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While I’m on the topic of date night (see my previous post)…

This week we did not feel like mini-golfing again on date night, so we went bowling instead.  I did so well, we got a printout of the scores, much to my husband’s dismay – I’ve already mentioned how he has bad luck at physics-dependent sports like bowling and mini-golf.  And I got tons of practice at bowling as a kid – I was in a weekly bowling league for I don’t know how many years.  Later in high school, I took bowling in gym class and joined intramural bowling after school where I  was crowned, “Female Bowler of the Year” for the two years I was in it –  not a difficult feat, seeing as how there were under 10 girls involved, but still, if we had had a competitive bowling team in high school, perhaps I would have been a high school athlete, hehe!

I’ve spent about 23% of my adult years pregnant (!) and most of the rest of those years raising small children who would wreak havoc with a bowling ball, so needless to say, I have not had a chance to hone the skill I developed as a youngster.  I do enjoy the occasional bowling game,  though, and rarely do I top my previous bowling average from back-in-the-day: 132.  Well, the other date night, not only did I top my old average for the two games we played but I somehow tied my all-time high score!  Well, anyway, here are the scores, and this reminds me to make joining a weekly league a priority when the kids get a little bit older!

8-11-09 bowling scores 002

And about the title I chose for my post…  I just finished reading the book Columbine by Dave Cullen, and it was a fascinatingly detailed account of the 1999 Colorado high school massacre dissected from just about every angle.  If you like to read true crime or just want to know every detail about the massacre (it holds a special fascination for me since it was unfolding just as Hubby and I arrived at our honeymoon destination after a 24-hour road trip back in ’99), you should read this book.  It’s both sad and informative, and the author does mention that the Michael Moore movie, Bowling for Columbine, has little to do with the circumstances involving the high school massacre.  But, Bowling for Columbine is a catchy title nonetheless, which is why I borrowed it, not because I’m a Michael Moore fan.  Actually, we saw a parody of his movies the other day, and I will be sure to include the movie review in an upcoming post called “It Was A Redbox Summer”.  Stay Tuned!